X Shifter and Maker Battery - Kickstarter

George S.

Well-Known Member
http://newatlas.com/xshifter-electr...ail&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-9297441880-92403309

It's an interesting concept, especially for a mid-drive where you want to shift quite a bit. Auto-shift has been kicking around for a few years.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1354698863/maker-batteries-build-your-own-lithium-ion-battery

The parallel slab (6p) version of these batteries would be very easy to assemble. The idea is to eliminate the need for a spot welder. The big power pack is 1 kWh, and that is a lot of power for 7 pounds or so.
 

dm nelson

Active Member
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1354698863/maker-batteries-build-your-own-lithium-ion-battery

The parallel slab (6p) version of these batteries would be very easy to assemble. The idea is to eliminate the need for a spot welder. The big power pack is 1 kWh, and that is a lot of power for 7 pounds or so.
What a great idea, pre-made diy battery kits! Also that batteries could be designed for other home uses. I'm curious what the cost of these kits would be if the kickstarter succeeds. What savings over cost of available batteries from Luna and other vendors?
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
I think the Kickstarter prices are accurate. I'll confirm with Micah. Anyone that can invest now would really help this project go forward. Micah is a brilliant young Isreali fellow who started eBike School. http://www.ebikeschool.com

A really nice site with some interesting finds and ideas.

BTW I have a 36V 10Ah kit and it is really nicely put together. Nice non conductive foam panels for the pack under the shrink wrap and nothing to buy. Any connector pigtail could easily be substituted. The batteries and kit bits come form the same source as supplier several resellers of finished battery packs.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
What a great idea, pre-made diy battery kits! Also that batteries could be designed for other home uses. I'm curious what the cost of these kits would be if the kickstarter succeeds. What savings over cost of available batteries from Luna and other vendors?
There's a very comprehensive summary of the battery KS here. Ron explores where this project could go if it could build a little momentum. I did the costs on a couple of kits and figured the kits with larger numbers of cells were a better deal, per cell anyway. This is a project I would support if he wanted to do an equity funding kind of thing, a crowd fund. I have three packs lying around that work.

Micah seems to be a teacher. I watched a couple of the videos and came away with a very high comfort level for what he is doing and what I could do. But it's a developmental product that might take a while to bring into the mainstream of DIY. Still, there are three markets here, the ebikes, the RC builders, and the Power Wall, concept. I was trying to figure out what I could do with 1 or 2 kWh of power in a light and small pack. I could run my little travel trailer. There are issues with DC-DC converters and 48 volt inverters, which are expensive.

If you watch the videos it's clear exactly what a battery pack is. There are some safety features you can add, and ways to protect the pack. But as far as how you build a pack, the basics, this is it.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Micah is also an engineering student. Working, I believe, on a masters level. Besides being very bright he's and incredibly kind fellow. It's a real joy for this old guy to meet someone as excited about eBikes and their future, as Micah is. This is a young fellow to watch. I predict he's a leader in the industry just waiting to go to full bloom.

I found the video to be the best I've seen to date. The systematic approach developed in the video is a fabulous way to learn. At first I thought it a bit much but I found that following the method actually made understanding how a pack is configured much clearer.

I got excited about sending the links to a pal that has an OEM bike who's replacement battery is crazy priced for a replacement. He can build his own with this kit for 1/3, or less, of the OEM price. AND have the better GA cells.

FOR THE RECORD I have no financial or familial relationship with Micah. After my stroke I was having lots of struggles trying to finish my first eBike build. Micah was an incredible resource and helped me more times than I can recount.

Thanks George! For posting this!
 
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harryS

Well-Known Member
I can buy a good 13s-4P for $459 that uses GA cells, as opposed to the parts for a 13S-3P for a $379 pledge. That's 52 batteries in the first battery compared to 39 in the kit. The savings are a big part of my make vs buy decisions, and unless I am reading his prices incorrectly, they're not there at the moment.

Not easy being a grinch.







.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
We probably have different ideas regarding what constitutes a good battery and reseller. I like having built a couple of my own batteries and knowing how to repair them. I'm guessing your $459 battery doesn't include shipping and likely has a pretty short warranty. I had an acquaintance buy a budget battery from a very popular source and once the 90 days was up he's on his own. We couldn't even get a BMS replacement. BTW the BMS revealed the battery was made in China and can be purchased direct. If you're not comfortable you should definitely avoid.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Most of the action is in automotive cells. Tesla has the new bigger cell, which is going into Power Wall 2, apparently, for now. With GM using pouch cells and Tesla auto using the bigger cells, there could be cheaper cells floating around, just because there is machinery to make these 18650 cells. If the idea gets up and running the company might be able to find cheap cells and just play the market. If you had one of those automated 1-7 parallel cell welders, you could churn out the modules at low cost and very quickly. It's a better choice than just buying cells, if you want to make an ebike pack fairly simply.

Tesla is selling the 14 kWh Powerwall2 for $5,000. If you break down the costs, it messes up most battery vendor business models.
 

BattMan

New Member
I came to the same conclusion as harry. On top of that, there are a number of other problems with this "idea". I like Micah. I do not like this endeavor. The value is low, soldering cells should be avoided, and if you wanted to avoid spot welding you could get pre-welded groups in any number or shape you like from several sources. What Micah has done is to remove the planning and guesswork without due regard for some important specifics of pack building. Folks endeavoring to build their own pack should have a modest capability to do this properly or else pay a little more for a professionally built pack. A few years ago ebike batteries were a good deal (assuming it was not merely used as a toy one couldn't justify) and prices have dropped dramatically so I can't imagine why someone would want to spend good money on an inferior product-- good packs are well worth the price and are only getting cheaper. Of all the offerings on that page only the most expensive 36V20Ah looks attractive and fitting. I wish him well but I hope this isn't another example of a "successful" kickstarter campaign on the backs of an unknowing audience.
 
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George S.

Well-Known Member
I came to the same conclusion as harry. On top of that, there are a number of other problems with this "idea". I like Micah. I do not like this endeavor. The value is low, soldering cells should be avoided, and if you wanted to avoid spot welding you could get pre-welded groups in any number or shape you like from several sources. What Micah has done is to remove the planning and guesswork without due regard for some important specifics of pack building. Folks endeavoring to build their own pack should have a modest capability to do this properly or else pay a little more for a professionally built pack. A few years ago ebike batteries were a good deal (assuming it was not merely used as a toy one couldn't justify) and prices have dropped dramatically so I can't imagine why someone would want to spend good money on an inferior product-- good packs are well worth the price and are only getting cheaper. Of all the offerings on that page only the most expensive 36V20Ah looks attractive and fitting. I wish him well but I hope this isn't another example of a "successful" kickstarter campaign on the backs of an unknowing audience.
What sources? I think you are allowed to list them. I think he went with high priced cells. The strips that are pre-welded would act as a heat sink across the parallel cells. People solder their balance wire connections.

This video basically said that everyone should make their packs like EM3ev. I'm pretty sure his pack is 'safer' than other packs that float around. But I asked in the comments whether there is a real understanding of what it takes to make a safe pack, and I asked what the balance of costs should be.

If Micah's company could buy cells at better prices, put them together in parallel strips, and sell the other parts as a kit or just as parts, it's a sound idea. You say we shouldn't solder, but surely soldering to strips is different from soldering to terminals? The strips take solder very readily. There are other issues, like the hot melt glue, the lack of spacers and fuses. But aren't the cells a lot better today? He's using the top of the line stuff, maybe too top of the line for the prices?

I really need to know your standards for a battery pack. What is the balance of cost and safety? Would you regulate away the right to make a DIY pack? People might burn down an apartment complex? What about LiPo packs? There are a heck of a lot of those out there, plus the LiPos in other devices.

It doesn't look like the KS is going to fund. I think there is a valid idea here, if this fails. I hope he refines it and looks for cheaper cells. You seem to be saying there is nothing here.
 

BattMan

New Member
Thanks for sharing that video, I've saved it to bookmarks. I see it was made last week-- excellent to see such quality construction. I knew they were high quality but that is truly impressive-- EM3EV looks even better than Bosch. I think he does custom shapes as well?
Soldering balance leads should be done prior to spot welding if DIY. It can be done well but with power leads in particular the heat can be damaging, even if the defect doesn't appear until months later I've found the cells exposed to increased heat to be most likely to fail. I wouldn't expect novices with a soldering iron to build a battery I'd trust but nickel does solder quite well-- I still prefer to avoid even balance wires unless pre-tapped. Many cell suppliers will pre-weld groups in nearly any config you like for a few pennies per cell.
The cells Micah uses can be good, but like the "impossible" bike, hover/balance boards and other similar ideas the cells like that aren't great for reliable e-vehicle use unless you have sufficient quantity or low power needs.
Thanks again for the vid-- I'm really impressed!
 

micaht

New Member
Hey everyone, Micah here. Thanks for the kind words as well as the constructive feedback.

I just wanted to point out a couple things. Regarding pricing, I've tried to make this the most affordable way to get an ebike battery, outside of spot welding one yourself if you already own a spot welder. (If you don't own a spot welder already, then this should still be cheaper than buying one in most cases).

In response to HarryS above, $459 for a 13s4p pack is truly an amazing price. I'm not sure where you can find that outside of a Chinese supplier, since Luna (the best deal on packs with genuine high quality cells like these) sells that pack for around $500 including shipping. So I could be wrong, but I still feel my $379 13s3p pack is a good deal, and over $100 cheaper than any other domestic option with the same high quality GA cells. For someone that needs the higher power output or longer range of 4p then the Luna battery would be a better buy, but my kits were designed for people that need not more than 30A continuous, which I think includes most ebikers. And if higher range is needed, the 13s6p kit I made for 20AH with Panasonic 18650B cells for $549 is a very good deal, in my opinion. The same pack (but with GA) cells would be over $200 more from the above supplier, but who really needs 6p of GA cells? 60A continuous is more than the BMS can handle anyways.

I could have gone with cheaper cells like some have suggested, and thus had cheaper kits, but the whole point of this project was to use high quality cells, not off-brand or cheap cells. But if you think I'm "a grinch" then I of course can't change your mind.

In response to Battman, you're absolutely right that there are other ways to build a battery and other sources for cells. What I've tried to do is a build a kit that gives an affordable and convenient way to get everything you need in one place. Many of these parts are hard to find, especially in small quantities. A first time battery builder is likely to end up with counterfeit cells if they just order from random suppliers in China. Buying things like high quality silicone wire, large diameter heat shrink and connectors in small quantities is hard to find, so you're often stuck buying a meter of heat shrink when you need 10 inches, or a bag of connectors when you need only one. This all makes it more expensive to build a single pack. A casual glance might make someone say "hey, these kits seem expensive" but when you do the math and add in the shipping costs for all the parts you'd have to find on your own (my prices included free shipping) then you realize that this is one of the cheapest and definitely the most convenient way to build a battery. Again, I'm not going to change your mind and I don't intend to, I just want to make sure I get a chance to correct the misinformation.

Oh and it's perfectly fine to solder on the nickel strips attached to the cells, provided you do it correctly and don't hang out on the cells for long periods of time. Every professionally built 18650 pack has the wires soldered to the nickel strip. Here are instructions I've written to show people the proper way to build these packs: http://www.diybatteries.com/2016/10/22/how-to-build-a-48v-10ah-battery-with-maker-batteries/

as well as video instructions that show the proper way to solder them here:
 
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Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
My 36V pack is really pretty cool. This kit with 3p cells welded gives me a number of options for shape. The GA cells mean I can have 10Ah in a very small package. I can build it into a seat pack or a small triangle pack from Aliexpress. I found a nice small triangle for around $12 delivered. There's no way to put the packs together for this price. In order to get the price I'd have to buy a larger quantity of all the parts. If I were gathering materials for a dozen batteries I could possibly shave the price some but buying parts for a single battery drives the cost up. I also like the fact that it's a great learning tool. The kit and video guides the buyer through the build and the lessons learned can be used to build other packs. I see it as a great value and a great teaching/learning tool.
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
I could have gone with cheaper cells like some have suggested, and thus had cheaper kits, but the whole point of this project was to use high quality cells, not off-brand or cheap cells. But if you think I'm "a grinch" then I of course can't change your mind.
Micah,

This is the problem for me, I guess. I see cells that are a cut below the Sanyo GA cells, maybe LG, Sony, or older Samsungs. Mostly these are Chinese sites, but the prices are maybe $4 a cell. I'm not going to do it and I'm not going to just buy cells for an ebike. I just wonder if there might be some deals. If you look at surveys of cells 'suitable' for ebikes, there are quite a few. Maybe there are decent prices. I got in an argument on YouTube where I said cell prices had come down over the past couple of years. But there's no place to go to find 'spot' prices or anything like that. I don't know if a decent Sony 2500 mah with a 2c rate might be a screaming bargain somewhere, and where would that somewhere be, anyway. I look at Luna and a couple of Chinese sites.

So it's like Sondors. He was over in China and he found cells, Samsung cells, cheap enough to offer a second battery for, I believe, $189. This is 18 months ago, a 36v 9AH. He had a boatload of money, of course. Right now, Luna has the 25R Samsungs for about $4 a pop, or the Samsung Q's for maybe $5. I don't know what the GA's cost. I was thinking you might find a $3-$4 cell and put 30 in a kit.

Everything shifts so fast. I was looking at LiFePo cells designed for RV's. They have shifted the chemistry to LMFP and the prices are half what they were 18 months ago. Nicely built stuff. I don't know if the Tesla 2170 cells can drift into the ebike space. That is around 6000 mah and a couple of those in parallel is 12 amp hours. That's a nice building block. But where is it, when is it and whatever.

My perspective? The quality problems seem to be with BMS boards and chargers.
 

BattMan

New Member
Hi Micah. Good to hear from you. I'm sorry if you felt anything I said was "misinformation". I did say that you took the planning and guesswork out of it but I think your target audience might be folks who don't really have the knowledge to properly build a pack and for these people a professionally built pack is a much safer option at a marginal markup in price. Comparing price/quality with the em3ev in that video the results should speak for themselves as you get what you pay for:


Your advice is well given and presented in the video but correct me if I'm wrong that every cell manufacturer says not to solder their cells. To quote: "Don’t solder the battery directly. Excessive heating may cause deformation of the battery components such as the gasket, which may lead to the battery swelling, leakage, explosion, or ignition." I counted 5-8 seconds of heat for each series connection and I assume you're more adept and experienced than your likely buyers who may take a little longer to construct. Excluding pre-tinning that is 20-30 seconds of heat applied in ~40-60 seconds time. Particularly the positive terminals are prone to heat-induced damage as the 400-600°F heat can easily boil the electrolyte and damage the cells (again, even if the defect isn't apparent until later). Solder has poor electrical conductivity as well though I don't fault this too much. If you believe a 3P GA cell to be well suited to 30A continuous I wish you luck, but you won't be winning me or anyone who knows this stuff over with assertions that novices soldering their own lithium batteries is perfectly fine. There are other issues with your "idea" but I wish you well all the same.
 
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Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Your advice is well given and presented in the video but correct me if I'm wrong that every cell manufacturer says not to solder their cells./QUOTE]
There are recommendations and then there's real world use. Believe me, there are all kinds of builds where solder has been used and used successfully. This will never be a main stream product but for those of us who have experimented, there has been much success.
Heck which bike manufacturer suggests using their frame to convert to a eBike. All warrantees are gone the instant that drive motor is installed. EVERY BIKE MANUFACTURER VOIDS WARRANTEE IF THEIR BIKE IS MODIFIED

You make good points, thanks for the view!
 

George S.

Well-Known Member
Here's a guy who is basically building and soldering recycled cells on an industrial scale. The soldering is toward the end. The other stuff is interesting if you are into it. I think he is up to a 30 kWh power wall now. I've watched a lot of the videos where people build and recycle packs. I don't see anything wrong with this stuff.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Interesting indeed, but to scary. I'd have to evaluate each and every cell and those mismatched cells...well I hope he has a CLASS D extinguisher. YIKES!
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
I just received my Luna Mini, which is a 14S-2P battery advertised to use GA cells. I trust they do. With a Luna promo, I got $50 off for posting a pic of my ebike on their website, so it was $299 shipped. Comes with XT90 for output, and an XT60 for charging plus a little backlit voltage display. It's expensive for what I got, but in general, ebike batteries are not yet at commodity pricing, unless one lives in China.

I understand how a BMS works, and how to build a battery. I don't see an issue with my soldering onto a nickel strip. The above is 350 watt-hrs if their 7AH rating is true. Micah has a comparable package at 360 watt-hrs, 36 Volt 10AH 10S-3P, at about the same price. I would need a better price on the kit to consider making one.

If this had been July of 2016, when we were looking at $600-900 for a US delivered, getting a savings via doing the labor would work. It was in August of 2016 when Luna started shipping at a lower margin, because of their earlier history in selling vaping batteries, a market I had never even heard of.

These pre-welded guys are a great concept, but w/o the capital to get commodity prices, it's a tough sell.